It's that time again!  Here you see us getting our vegetable and flower seeds ready for starting our novitiate garden.  Spiritual tools used in Carmel are similar to gardening tools.  Preparing the soil of the garden is like preparing our souls for the Lord!   



 by Sr. Hope Therese, O.Carm

My mom became a mother for the first time on January 25th, 1985 when my sister Melissa was born.  She became a mom for the second time on January 13th, 1987 when I was born.  When we were born my mom consecrated us both to God and accepted that no matter where we went we would be doing his will.  After my sister was born, my mom left her job as a social worker to spend more time with us.  When I was four we all moved from New Jersey to New York.  This was when my mom felt called to return to the Catholic church of her youth.  She brought my sister and me with her and raised us very well in the Catholic faith.  In fact one year she taught my CCD class at church.  Mom was always there when we needed her, but she always kept busy.  She did work for the church, started her own quilt business and founded the upstate New York chapter of the Quilts of Valor foundation that distributes quilts to wounded soldiers, and numerous volunteer projects.  Not to mention she was also part time farm hand, cook, housekeeper, handywoman, chauffer, and nurse to her children.  I still don’t know how she did and still does it all.  It must be God’s grace!  Once when I was about four or five I remember my mom sleeping in my room with her knees on the floor and her head on my bed.  When I asked her about it when I was much older she said she was surprised I remembered that and that was when I had a chest infection.  Mom got my sister and I involved in 4H.  She was the leader of our 4H craft group that met at our house every week.  She also helped my sister and I raise rabbits and chickens for 4H.  Mom was always tough but fair and kind but just.  I can remember many time outs on the stairs for my bad behavior.  If we threw a tantrum because we couldn’t get something in the grocery store we would leave the store immediately.  The cart full of groceries would be left in the isle.  If we behaved we got a box of animal crackers.  My mom volunteered to go on many field trips when we were in school.  My classmates were always asking, “Why is your mom so nice?”  I’d say “That’s just the way she is.”  My mom was my health care advocate and provider when was I growing up.  When I had to receive growth hormone shots every day for seven years I think she was more upset than I was.  It didn’t help that she was the one who had to give them to me.  One day, several years ago, when my mom had a dentist appointment she had a lapse of memory and somehow ended up at our local middle school.  My sister poked her head out of her classroom and said, “Mom, what are you doing here?”  My mom looked up and said “Just checking!”  We still laugh about that, but my sister and I rarely got into any trouble growing up knowing that Mom could always be just checking!  A few years ago when I was in college and my sister had moved out my mom found a little plastic Barbie shoe when she was cleaning where my sister and I used to play.  It made her a little emotional remembering when her babies were little.  When my sister called her that day, all my mom could get out at first was, “Barbie shoe!”  Thankfully when I called later that day she was much calmer and related the whole story to me.  The women in our family now call any emotional moment a “Barbie shoe moment!”  A couple years after I graduated college Mom was diagnosed with stage 3, aggressive and resistive breast cancer.  Mom made the cancer as little about her as possible and made it her mission to support other patients at support groups and with her beautiful handmade quilts and quilted angels. She still makes and delivers quilts to the cancer treatment center where she used to go for the patients there. Is it any wonder all of her friends and family were relieved that she made it through?  On January 18th, 2012 my mom became grandma for the first time to my sister’s son Jacob.  She now looks after Jacob twice a week and I have every confidence she is as good of a grandmother as she is a mother.   No parent is perfect, but I truly believe she comes as close to it as possible.  I know she does her best and gives it her all.  My Mom’s faith, hope, and love have been an inspiration to me my entire life and still are.  It was a heavy cross to leave her, but her courage and guidance gave me the strength to stand on own and build up my faith life.  She is truly an example of the Blessed Virgin Mary incarnate and having someone like her as a mother is one of the biggest blessings anyone could receive.  If you have met her I don’t have to tell you how great she is!  She now calls herself “Mamma Jo” and is well known and loved among her adopted daughters, the Carmelites Sisters!  I know she will read this, so, Mom I love you so very much!  I cannot thank you or repay you enough for everything you have done and still do!  Happy Mother’s Day!  I’m sorry for giving you another Barbie shoe moment!                            



by Sr. Maureen Paul Angeline, O.Carm

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am once again amazed and awed by the courage and fortitude of mothers.  It is not an easy thing to take the leap of faith required to become a parent.  To trust God completely with not only one’s own future, but also that of a loved and cherished child, seems like an almost impossible task especially in a world where unemployment and under-employment threaten family financial viability and a world shaken by violence such as shootings in schools, bombs at large public events, and war.  And it is a world in which becoming a mother has become not only optional, but also socially devalued. 
Since the legalization of artificial contraceptives and abortion many women are choosing not to become mothers.  What a tragedy for the individual woman who never gets to experience the joys of motherhood, and what a tremendous loss for the child or children she might have birthed and reared…What a terrible loss for us all. 
I would like to see our culture change into one that places more value on family life, respects motherhood, and treasures the elderly.  I believe that with God’s help this could happen.  I feel that we all need to come together, pray for mothers, families, and the elderly, and do whatever is in our power to promote their well-being. 
Sometimes I think that our Blessed Mother would like to be portrayed as Our Lady of Perpetual Maternal Joy so that she could stand as a positive image of motherhood for the young women of today’s world.  When I was discerning my vocation to religious life, and feeling afraid to pursue the vocation that I have been given, I pictured her chiding me and saying, “My daughter, how silly you are being.  Look what I went through and yet it was worth all the suffering that I endured.  Don’t worry so much, just talk to my son about it and then do whatever he tells you to do.”   If young women called to the vocation of motherhood heeded Our Blessed Mother’s advice, their lives would be enriched and fulfilled by that special love that only mothers get to experience; the love of a mother for her child.    
Motherhood is a great vocation and one that we ought to recognize and hold in high esteem.  Hopefully in the new age of Catholicism, a stronger family bond will become the norm and will generate increasingly family-oriented cultural values.  This is what I am praying for: 
            O Mother of Jesus, our Blessed Mother
            Cover all mothers and their families with your mantle of protection. 
            Let your love envelope them and shield them from corruption and from all the evils of the world. 
            Provide for their needs both spiritual and physical. 
            Intercede for them with your son to grant them abundant graces. 
            Bless all mothers with maternal joy and all families with unity and peace. 
            And let all children be their mothers’ delight and consolation in this life and their eternal reward    in heaven. 



By Sr. Mary Catherine Angeline, O.Carm

               When I was growing up, May was the most beautiful and wonderful month for me.  My mother led and I followed.  She would prepare ahead of time a beautiful hand sewn “mantle” to dress a lovely statue of Mary we had in the home.  It was always a white shiny material and lace, decked out with small sparkling gems, gold trimmings very tastefully made.  During May, Mary took her “throne” in our home on the dining room buffet table.  Mother would place books under another white piece of fabric and place the statue on top to give the impression Mary was on “clouds”. There were fresh grown and cut flowers decorating her right and left. 
               Every night in our home we prayed the family rosary right after dinner.  But in May the rosary was even more special for me.  See, at school, after recess we would sit on the grass in front of a large statue of Mary outside the convent and recite the rosary there as we sang hymns to her.  On inclement days we would say it in the classrooms.  At our daily Mass in May we also sang many beautiful hymns to Mary.  I loved this and learned many songs that are no longer in use – they are prayer/poems for me now.
               As a child the actions of adults speak louder than words.  My mother would try to be more loving, kind, patient, and joyful in imitation of Mary.  So it was easy to also try to imitate both my mother and Mary from an early age.   With words, Mother would always remind us of poor souls to be saved, to show Jesus we loved Him.
               Through the years these memories have remained the foundation of a much grown and developed love and devotion to Mary, Jesus’ mother and mine. Yes, I still love the rosary and hymns to Mary and miss the pomp and fashion that used to be in her honor.  But the imitation of her virtues, especially her docility, obedience, love, strength and gentleness, still follow me day in and out as I strive to love Our Lord and others in a multitude of ways.  Thank you for the strong foundation!
 May you rest in peace, Mom! Mary, my Mother, please pray to Jesus for me.


Why a Carmelite Sister?

I’d like to start by asking each of us a question. “What possessed you (and me) to become a Carmelite Sister for the Aged and Infirm?” This is a valid question and one that we may have asked ourselves a hundred times during the last however many years we have been in Religious Life. But what possessed us to enter Carmel? At some point each one of us must have felt that what we were doing was not enough, or perhaps how we were doing it. The God who called us brought us on an inner journey, made on behalf of the world – the Church. That unsatisfiable part of ourselves is what drives each one of us on. It is used to its full by the advertising industry – the constant need for bigger and better is in every heart, but for us, this is a longing which only God and God’s love can fill, because it is infinite. In the words of St. Paul: “Because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord I count everything else as loss. For him I have accepted the loss of everything and look on them all as nothing if only I can gain Christ….” This is what spurred us to prayer and what ultimately drew us to give up everything else and dedicate ourselves to our particular vocation as Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. Only Faith can make sense of this way of life. Like the crucifixion, the way of life of a Carmelite Sister is a “Stumbling block to the Jews and madness to the Greeks.” Yet only by giving His life, could Jesus influence the whole world through his Spirit; his teachings and healings were not enough. As it is with us, we gave our whole life to ministry in Carmel. We know that it is impossible to change anything by ourselves, but that is where we do well to recall the words of Jesus in the Gospel, “Remain in my love”. Only by remaining in Christ, by allowing His power to work through us, only insofar as our prayer is joined to the prayer of Christ can it bear fruit. Perhaps it is not so much “What possessed us?”, but rather “Who possessed us?” – God our Father who gave us the gift of our vocation, Jesus Christ who journeys with us each day, The Holy Spirit who leads us into unknown and challenging paths. May that Triune God fill us all today and lead us forward into a future full of hope. Another question: Who inspired us to be Carmelite Sisters? Was it perhaps some Sister we met who invited us to “come and see?” Well, we did come and we saw – their love, their joy, their enthusiasm for ministry, and their love of Mary. And one final question: Do I inspire, and do I invite young women to “come and see?” Will they see in me that joy, enthusiasm and the love for my community that I saw in the Sisters who inspired me; and if not – why?

Sr. Ann McCartney, O.Carm